The data collection application must have a simple, high-speed interface. For this reason, the application software is held on the tablet. Data are transferred immediately to the server. Data do not remain in storage on the tablet between activities with the respondent. Only secure data are communicated to the server, and not interface pages, routing information, or other application rules. A respondent can review the history of household entries at any time, and those data would be transmitted back to the tablet for review.
Respondents must be certain that their data are secure. Hardware, software, and procedures are built around secure protocols. Both the field representative and the technical support desk must be able to clearly explain how these data are held securely, in one place, on the data collection server. Respondents must also be aware that the use of these tablets represents better, more secure data collection than alternatives while reducing data collection costs.
Because relatively little consumer data are sent to the server at any point in time, wireless phone infrastructure is being proposed for communication. The coverage in the United States is extensive and ever increasing. Coverage for the CE target population is likely to be virtually 100 percent within several years. The use of this communication infrastructure means that a household’s Internet connectivity is irrelevant. Moreover, the link-up to the server would be immediate and transparent to the respondent.
Monitoring and Technical Support
Since data are received upon entry for tablet users, the respondent’s cooperation and compliance can be tracked by a centralized facility. For those who respond daily, it is possible to send positive reinforcement (e.g., a thank-you message) every time they log in. For those who lapse in their task, it is possible to intervene in a timely and effective manner with supporting reminders via phone, e-mail or text, or by mail. Ideally, a 24/7 in-house technical support team would be maintained throughout the data collection period to address respondent messages and phone calls very quickly.
The field representative remains involved with the household as needed. The representative may revisit some households to assist with or to perform the data collection. The representative may need to retrieve the tablet from some households after administration concludes, although this would be minimized by the distribution of the return-mail packages. However, these actions would take place only if requested by the central facility.
The tablet would be lightweight, have a large and bright enough screen